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Farm to Fork event introduces farmers

Farm fresh eggs are displayed at a recent farm to fork dinner held in Fairbury / CIFN photo.

FAIRBURY – A farm to fork event held in Fairbury last month introduced those who raise local products to members of the public.

JoEllen Gehring was on hand to talk with attendees about what happens on her farm. The Gehrings have a chicken business which the kids are actively involved with.

“We have laying hens and we also raise free range chicken meat,” Gehring explained.

Working with meat birds tends to be a year-round project, as it takes around seven weeks to raise a meat bird to maturity.

“We let the building sit empty for a few weeks usually. It’s kind of our disease control program.”

Gehring also operates Cascade Gardens, a full-service garden center located west of Fairbury on Route 24. She starts planting hanging baskets in February and begins work on the smaller containers during the late winter.

“It’s just a matter of maintaining them until they grow big enough to sell.”

John Shank, owner of The Chocolatier in Bloomington, was also at the farm to fork dinner, providing dessert to the guests. The Chocolatier makes things like turtles, truffles and nut clusters. They are always looking for potential retailers as they wholesale the products.

“It’s like quality farm food – once you have something really fresh and of a high quality, it’s tough to go back to something that would be less than,” Shank said.

Almost everything is made at the shop in Bloomington, Shank says. The Chocolatier is on Facebook and also has a website. The products can be found in Pontiac, Peoria, Mackinaw, Dwight and Mahomet.

“We are slowly getting our product out there,” added Shank.

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